Encouraged by home minister to hold dialogue with Kuki leaders: Meitei outfits | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Encouraged by home minister to hold dialogue with Kuki leaders: Meitei outfits

By, New Delhi
Aug 26, 2023 12:55 AM IST

Representatives of the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity — a collective of five Meitei groups based in Imphal — met Shah at his residence in Delhi a little past midnight on Thursday

The Union government encouraged members of an umbrella group of Meitei organisations to initiate dialogue with the Kuki community to facilitate peace in strife-torn Manipur, the collectives said in a statement on Friday after a late-night meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah.

The ethnic clashes between Meitei and Kuki communities first broke out on May 3 and has left least 155 people dead, displacing another 50,000 (AFP file photo)
The ethnic clashes between Meitei and Kuki communities first broke out on May 3 and has left least 155 people dead, displacing another 50,000 (AFP file photo)

Representatives of the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) — a collective of five Meitei groups based in Imphal — met Shah at his residence in Delhi a little past midnight on Thursday.

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Earlier on Thursday, Shah met Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) chief JP Nadda. COCOMI said that it also met senior officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) on Friday.

“COCOMI was encouraged to initiate dialogues with responsible Kuki leaders and groups to facilitate problem-solving and peace-building,” the group’s statement said.

The group also demanded the removal of Assam Rifles, especially in border areas and sought its replacement by another force.

“The home minister emphasised a firm stance against all forms of infiltration into Manipur’s territory. Measures are being implemented to register immigrants using biometrics, including retina scans,” the statement added.

The ethnic clashes between Meitei and Kuki communities first broke out on May 3 and have left least 155 people dead, displacing another 50,000.

There was no statement from the Union home ministry on the meeting.

COCOMI said the Union government was expediting border fencing in Manipur. They also said that “there shouldn’t be any allowance” for a separate administration which is a key demand of the Kuki community.

Chief minister N Biren Singh had said on Thursday that he asked the Centre for more paramilitary forces in Manipur to complete border fencing work. Manipur shares nearly 398 km of porous border with Myanmar, of which the government has fenced 19 km.

A COCOMI spokesperson said the group also submitted a memorandum of demands to the home minister, including opening of national highways blocked by Kuki protesters and the resettlement of displaced people. COCOMI claimed that the home minister told them that necessary deployment of forces will be sent to secure the highways and “that support for the same is needed from both communities”.

On August 9, Shah had met representatives of Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) – an influential umbrella group of tribal bodies – after an announcement about a mass burial by the group led to fresh cases of violence and protests in the state. The ITLF said that during the meeting, they had also requested the minister for chopper services from hills districts to Mizoram airport and other demands of Kuki people.

The mass burial of 35 bodies (of Kuki victims) was called off following hectic parleys by authorities, a court order, undertaking from MHA, and a meeting of the ITLF with home minister Shah. COCOMI and other Meitei groups opposed the burial plan, and several groups began converging near the proposed burial site, triggering widespread clashes that went on in pockets of the state. The Centre had said that the burial site was in a conflict zone, which would further disrupt the law-and-order problem in the state.

After the August 9 meeting, ITLF said the minister had urged them to decide on an alternative burial site. ITLF is yet to inform the government about its decision.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Prawesh Lama covers crime, policing, and issues of security in Delhi. Raised in Darjeeling, educated in Mumbai, he also looks at special features on social welfare in the National Capital.

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